Brooklyn Center, Hennepin County host Brooklyn Boulevard project open house

Residents peer over some preliminary designs for the Brooklyn Boulevard-County Road 152 reconstruction project at a June 20 open house at New Millenium Academy. (Sun Post staff photo by Christiaan Tarbox)

Brooklyn Center residents got to learn about and voice their thoughts on an upcoming project that will reconstruct a one-and-a-half mile stretch of road to improve safety and enhance traffic operations.

The city of Brooklyn Center, along with Hennepin County, hosted a June 20 open house at Brooklyn Center’s New Millenium Academy to discuss details on the impending Brooklyn Boulevard-County Road 152 Phase One reconstruction project, which is slated to begin in 2018. The proposed project would reconstruct 1.4 miles of Brooklyn Boulevard from 49th Avenue to 59th Avenue. The open house shared preliminary designs and details with residents curious about the project’s impact on their neighborhood.

“We’re going to present the preliminary plans and give about a 20-minute presentation to kind of walk people through the corridor and the different improvements that we’re recommending along this corridor to the intersections,” said Brooklyn Center Project Engineer Mike Albers. “The city of Brooklyn Center, in conjunction with Hennepin County, conducted a corridor study in 2011 and 2012, which was accepted by the city of Brooklyn Center City Council in 2013. This is a continuation of that corridor study. That corridor study recommended some specific project improvements, and this would be the first phase of those project improvements.”

The project’s first phase would repave the roadways between the targeted 10 blocks of Brooklyn Boulevard, improve intersections and reconfigure turn lanes, make additions to sidewalks and trails, relocate bus stops, improve traffic signals, and improve pedestrian crossings.

“The corridor is very different north and south of 100, and I think a theme that we’re trying to portray is conflict reduction,” said Hennepin County Project Engineer Nathan Ellingson. “There’s a lot of intersection work that we’re doing that is looking to reduce conflicts. The addition of turn lanes, the consolidation of access points, changing how lanes interact.”

After applying for federal funding in 2014, Brooklyn Center and Hennepin County received $7.4 million in Surface Transportation Program federal funds, with the remaining costs to be shared between the city and the county. The Brooklyn Center City Council approved a May 2016 resolution that officially established the project.

“After this meeting, we do anticipate bringing it back to at least the city council level to present the information that we’ve heard from the public here this evening,” said Albers. “Following this, we do have another meeting that we’ll conduct later on this fall.”

City Councilmember Dan Ryan was present for the open house, and noted that the project team was hoping to balance a number of citizen concerns.

“Obviously, with increased traffic on the boulevard, there are traffic flow and safety issues that we want to address, as well as proper design to encourage and lend a feeling of greater pedestrian safety for those who walk, and also to accommodate and integrate the trail system with the boulevard,” said Ryan.

Concerns still lingered for residents who will be directly impacted by the project, such as resident Jeffrey Moore, who lives in the neighborhood that the city wants to open access to Highway 100.

“I’m worried that in opening that access – which is not accessible now from Highway 100 without doing a lot of twisting and turning – we’re going to increase crime rates, we’re going to increase noise, we’re going to increase a lot of negatives,” said Moore. “(It will) drop our property value, raise our taxes. We’ve got a little six-block closed neighborhood, and this is going to do nothing but degrade that small neighborhood.”

After designs are finalized next spring, construction is slated to begin next spring and finish in fall 2019. Phase two of the project is scheduled to kick off sometime in 2021.

For more information on the project, call Albers at 763-569-3340 or Ellingson at 612-596-0375.

Contact Christiaan Tarbox at [email protected]